ABSTRACT

J. B. Bury in his definitive work The idea of progress delineates three distinguishing features of a thorough-going theory of progress. Bury himself believed that the idea of progress was scarcely to be found in ancient thought. And certainly on one of the conditions the second one it falls down rather heavily. Greek and Roman thinkers are much more inclined to speculate about the past than to make predictions about the future. The outstanding mythological figure associated with human progress is Prometheus who is also in Hesiodic myth the principal agent in the human race's downfall. For Prometheus is a trickster, and like the technology he bestows on the human race, he is thoroughly ambiguous. In the Hesiodic version of the story, the technological and social innovations for which the two are responsible are evil because they are second-best and remind us of the blessings of which we have been deprived.